BP boosted its share buyback programme after net profit soared to its highest in more than a decade on strong oil and gas trading results, as the energy company took a $24 billion charge after exiting its operations in Russia.
BP's strong results show that soaring oil and gas prices in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, offset losses it incurred from abruptly abandoning stakes in Russia, including its 19.75% stake in Rosneft.
The non-cash write-down of its stakes in Rosneft and two other joint ventures pushed BP into a headline loss of $20.4 billion in the quarter.
The charge was slightly lower than BP's initial estimates of $25 billion.
Exit From Russia
The company, which also halted trading Russian oil, said the exit from Russia, which contributed 3% of the company's cash flow last year, would not impact its plan to shift away from oil and gas towards renewables.
The exit from Russia and resulting write-down "has not changed our strategy, our financial frame, or our expectations for shareholder distributions," Bernard Looney, chief executive said.
BP's underlying replacement cost profit, the company's definition of net earnings, reached $6.2 billion in the first quarter, far exceeding analysts' expectations for a $4.49 billion profit.
The profit was driven by "exceptional" performance of BP's oil and gas trading division as well as higher oil and gas prices and strong refining margins. The company did not make any money from Rosneft in the quarter.
It compares with $4.1 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2021 and $2.63 billion a year earlier. Its 2021 profit was the highest in eight years.
BP said it would boost its quarterly share repurchases to $2.5 billion before the end of the second quarter after its surplus cash flow rose to more than $4 billion.
The company noted in February it would accelerate its share buybacks to $1.5 billion per quarter from $1.25 billion.
BP previously said it would repurchase $4 billion a year at oil prices of $60 per barrel, well below the current price of benchmark Brent, which was about $107 on Tuesday.
The company maintained its dividend at 5.46 cents per share.
BP rivals including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total Energies all saw a sharp rise in revenue in the quarter, lifted by higher oil and gas prices and strong performances of their trading divisions.
Top Western energy companies have boosted dividends and share repurchases in recent quarters as revenue surged in the wake of the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.